Crystal King tells us about one of history’s best-selling cookbooks


You've just written. A book called the chefs secret about the first celebrity chef tyler male Skopje. Who who was Skopje? Skopje was a man who worked for several different cardinals and popes during the renaissance and he found fame because he wrote pretty much. What was really the essential first cookbook that modern people in kitchens and homes could look at and use as a cookbook as we understand it today and it has over a thousand recipes in it and it was published in fifteen seventy and it was one of the best selling cookbooks for the next two centuries. I wish I'd write a book. That was the best rate for the next. Two centuries won't be around Let's get to the food spices This medieval Europe spices were in vogue at the time. So what kind of spices would they use a kitchen like this? So interestingly enough sugar is the biggest thing that was involved in not necessarily on the spice side of things but over nine hundred of the recipes in the cookbook actually have sugar in them and they would put sugar on everything. Like fried eggs has orange juice and sugar on them. Did you try that? I did not try that odd. I The that is the thing I think that is the most striking of the foods at this time is that the flavor combinations are very strange to us. You describe one feast slices Parmesan Olives from Tivoli assaulted. Buffalo Tongue. Served with lemon soup of cheese and egg yolks so some of the ingredients are common. The sauce is a sauce of ground. Almonds currants hard boiled eggs chicken livers. So you're right. They they had a very different Palate than we do. They would create pies for example that would have layers of cheese and then cinnamon and then cavs eyeballs and then Just you just layer all of these strange ingredients together. They really had cavs eyeballs. Oh they used every part of the animal and In certain regions that would have been a delicacy. Actually how do you research the Sixteenth Century? What are the kinds of records? The records of what people bought for the kitchens the the market lists. What other kinds of materials? Could you get hold up to do the research? Yeah a lot of Italian history is still an Italian so a lot of what I researched was actually in the original Italian. But there's a lot of really interesting information we have They took big inventories of their kitchens of the food and the wine that went through the house and so we can see a lot from that also. There was letters that were left behind. One thing that I find really fascinating is that the the gifted food regularly Isabela de Este would send a cabbage to her brother with a recipe on how to make it for example. Not Not a very close loved brother. Yes apparently average but they cultivated. They looked at growing food and fruits and vegetables as a hobby. A pastime that they were passionate about and this was a time of exploration in the area food and so you would send food and sausages and cheeses from one place to another on a regular basis pounds and pounds of fish. Sometimes we're giving gifts Christina's you mentioned those all the time. Are they similar to what we think of? Crisanto is today in. What is a Christodoulos? Start with her pie and yes. They're very similar. Skopje has recipes for simple single cross pies as well as pies that. Have beautiful elaborate tops? Very elaborate pies in these banquets could actually have live animals in them that you would cut open and they birds would fly out for example sometimes pies medieval times. You wouldn't eat the crust because the crossed wouldn't have been palatable flower water right. It was just to hold the food and cook the food differently. Whereas in this period of time you're starting to see flaky crusts and this is where you start to see. Pumpkin and Apple Pie and quince pies and peach and Cherry and pies's we know them today. I have a little experience going back into the nineteenth century American cookbooks and it's sort of hard to translate recipes from that period to the modern times because the ingredients were different right. I mean sugar is not the same kind of sugar. We have today for example. Did you try to cook some of those Skopje recipes? And if so. Did you have problems of translating them? The recipes in Skopje. Cookbook are actually pretty straightforward I found that the majority of the ingredients could be easily sourced at least on the Internet. So did you end up with any recipes in your repertoire. Or these were all speech should stay in the sixteenth century. Oh No these recipes start to become you can see where the foundation of Italian food comes today. there's a. Pumpkin cheesecake pie across data. That I would definitely make again in super easy to make. It's something extremely delicious. Pumpkin cheesecake came from the sixteenth century sixties. No it's not actually when you read the recipe you start to make it. It's got a cream cheese which I interpreted as cream cheese It was probably something not quite the same but similar in texture record of cheese. It has The spices that we're very familiar with mostly cinnamon. The pumpkin could very well have been pumpkin from the new world at that period of time or at least a squash and it's like a Pumpkin cheesecake pie but not as fluffy as we would have in our pies today but delicious. So you get a sense you know. We always think now the twenty first century so modern people were so old fashioned hundreds of years ago but five hundred years ago if you read this book and they were quite modern. So do you get a sense that the food world has really moved on and gotten better or it's just different. I think or what's worse. Maybe it's a little bit of both. I think it's worse in some ways in the sense that we look at regional cooking and and organic cooking as a trend in some ways whereas that's what you did and Skopje took great care in the cookbook to explain the foods from different regions and he had great respect for foods in different places. He was very obsessed with seasonal ingredients and was interested in bringing in flavours from different areas whereas an Italian cooking today. Everything is very very regional if you go to Rome. You're not necessarily going to get the same food that you're going to get in Bologna or in Venice so I think that there's there was a shift in Italian cooking very definitely but I think that he he started us all out and it's different but we can learn a lot. I think by looking back at him. Chris. Thank you very much The chef secret the story of Bartolomeo Skopje. Part fiction and part history. Thank you thank

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